THE two main UK fishermen’s organisations have warmly welcomed the government’s White Paper on the post Brexit future of the fishing industry.
The Scottish Fishermen’s Federation hailed the document titled Sustainable Fisheries as a signal of intent from the government to take back control of UK waters.
And the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations, which represents English, Welsh and Northern Irish crews, has described it as ‘clear, cogent, and apparently uncontroversial – within the UK anyway’.
SFF chief executive Bertie Armstrong (pictured) said: ‘The White Paper enshrines the important elements of a sustainable future for our industry: allowing the UK to become an independent coastal state, to take charge of who catches what and where, and to resist any attempt to link access to our waters to access to EU markets.
‘Importantly, it also moves towards a system under which we can catch much more of our own natural resource, known as zonal attachment. We have been arguing for these key points consistently since the referendum in June 2016.
‘Of course, there is a long way to go, and we now need our governments to show real backbone in the Brexit negotiations to ensure that these aspirations.’
The NFFO said: ‘This aligns quite closely with what the UK fishing industry wants and expects. The high attendance and level of interest at our recent NFFO lobby day in Parliament confirmed that there will also be very wide support across the parties for the broad approach outlined here.
‘Doubtless this unity reflects the widespread understanding in and beyond government that the entry terms in 1973 worked systematically and significantly to the detriment of the UK’s fishing interests – and have continued to do so over the intervening 45 years.
‘The UK’s departure from the EU gives us the long awaited opportunity to address the distortions that arrived with the Common Fisheries Policy.’
The NFFO also warned that the EU 27 countries would seek ‘at every turn’ to blunt its application, but in truth it only had one weapon in its armoury and that was the nuclear option of denying the UK a free trade deal unless the UK caved in on fisheries.
‘That would hurt many businesses in the supply chain in the EU – at least as many as in the UK. Politically, such is the parliamentary arithmetic that the UK government could not agree to a capitulation on fisheries and survive.’